Colts’ Riley Baira makes a break up the middle in the under-14 rugby final against Brothers.
Colts’ Riley Baira makes a break up the middle in the under-14 rugby final against Brothers. ALLAN REINIKKA AR

Colts claim under-16 final

IT was only when the referee yelled “one minute remaining” that the Colts broke into relief and realised that they had won the under-16 Rugby Union Grand Final.

Rugby Park on Saturday saw the “fast and tight” grand final between Colts and Central Highlands.

At half time the Colts were in the lead at 14 points to seven but the match continually levelled out.

And with only 10 minutes remaining on the clock the two teams stood at 21-all and neither showed any signs of throwing in the towel.

But the Colts pushed to a 12-point lead to finish the game at 33-21 and Colts’ Coach Jeff Ballinger said it was only in the last minute that the celebrations kicked in.

“It was a very tight game – the score was level with 10 minutes to go, but we managed to get away with it in the end,” he said.

“Central Highlands put the pressure on with their attack, and Blaise Hartley was their stand-out player and a good fullback – but they really stuck it to us with their defence.”

Central Highlands were aware of the Colts’ forceful player Anthony Mataele and put a stop to any repeats of his past victories.

“Anthony had a nice solid game but the opposition were quite aware of what he was capable of and kept shutting him down – they were watching him like a hawk,” Ballinger said.

Colts player Dylan Tiaaleaiga was a very “destructive runner” and scored three tries in the game.

Jeremiah Lynch led the forwards around, also securing a couple of tries as a matter of being in the right place at the right time.

Hayden Collins was named man of the match in the under-16 grand final and John Placid was named man of the match in the under-14 grand final earlier that day.

Some would assume with a final score of 21 points to five it would be a game that was won fairly easily with little challenge from the opposition.

But despite the lead from the Colts under-14s side in the grand final on Saturday at Rugby Park, Brothers initially came into the game with strong force.

When the game kicked off Brothers seemed to dominate possession, however were unable to secure any tries.

Colts then picked up, six minutes before half time, with the first try of the game by Riley Baira.

It was then converted by Duncan Paia’aua, who left the Colts to go into the second half leading seven-nil.

Ryan Webley then scored a try early in the next half from a penalty, which boosted their confidence.

Colts’ Coach Ross Webley said the second try was what secured the strength in the Colts players.

“After Duncan converted, we then felt confident because our forwards then dominated the match,” he said.

Brothers had dominated the under-14s competition largely throughout the season but in the game that counted on Saturday, Brothers scored their first try in the last 10 minutes of the game.

“Brothers were competitive right to the end of the match and showed good spirit, and we had a good competitive game,” he said.

“This season has been the most successful season so far with our under-18 competition, our really strong under-16 and our under-14 teams – it was our boom year.”

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